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High-tech manikins help in training students

To some, they may appear to be lifeless imitations of human beings made of hard plastic and stuffed with wires and electronics. But to Michelle Howard, director of OTC’s Simulation Center, the electronically elaborate manikins represent the cutting edge in medical training that will eventually save lives.

These manikins mimic a myriad of medical conditions that test the skills and abilities of emergency personnel. Each computer-driven manikin can bleed, sweat, speak and move. They can produce symptoms of everything from a heart attack to a drug overdose to a concussion.

“These manikins will provide hands-on experience in addition to what the students are learning in textbooks. Our students will take that knowledge and apply it in clinical settings,” Howard said.

“With the manikins, they are working in a real-life situation but it’s safe and won’t harm anyone. We can teach them, with the use of the manikins, to be careful practitioners.”

A new simulation center opened in November. The $1.25 million project was paid for with state and local grants, including funds from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Sunderland Corporation.

The rooms of the new facility are dedicated to different aspects of patient care, ranging from an emergency room setting to a surgical room. Birthing scenarios can be simulated, as well as emergencies that might take place in an apartment or a kitchen.

Observation windows will allow instructors to see how the students react to the situations they confront.

“All of the equipment and computer systems used are state-of-the-art. It’s the best on the market and provides a very realistic environment,” she said.

Students from many of the college’s Allied Health programs, along with a number of outside agencies, have been using the college’s manikins, including EMTs from Cox Health Systems, the Missouri National Guard (inset photo) and the University of Missouri.

“Manikins training is here to stay and it’s not going away,” Howard said. “The use of manikins is improving patient outcomes and helping prevent wrongful deaths. We are at the cutting edge with this center.”

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